According to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, MSM (men who have sex with men) and racial and ethnic minorities are both disproportionately affected by HIV. We spoke with Venton Jones from The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC)* about his efforts to use new media to extend the reach of their programs. NBGMAC will be launching a new website later this month and Venton is working with their members to develop a social media plan and build the organization’s social media presence. In this post, he tells us about his organization and why new media is important.
Here’s what Venton had to say.
The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Black gay men through advocacy that is focused on research, policy, education, and training. In 2006, MSM accounted for more than half (53%) of all new HIV infections in the United States. Young Black MSM accounted for more new HIV infections than any other racial or ethnic age group of MSM (CDC, 2010).
New media (social networks, text messaging, blogs, wikis, etc.) is an important tool to help reduce new HIV infections and increase advocacy among Black gay men, and particularly young people. According to the Nielsen Co, U.S. users spend 23% of their time on the Internet using social networking platforms. Among social network usage, 85% of their usage is through Facebook (CRN, 2010). Improving communications to its membership and broader constituency through these media, to drive community mobilization to achieve its policy agenda, has been a longstanding goal of NBGMAC.
The Levi Strauss Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS have provided generous support to overhaul the coalition’s website and incorporate new media into our ongoing communication channels. This will allow NBGMAC to share timely information on key advocacy issues and improve membership mobilization and recruitment through social media marketing, better visual presentation and overall usability. Most importantly, enhancing our new media platform will increase Black gay men’s awareness of important policy and legislative issues as we work to advance implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, health care reform, and LGBT health research and policy efforts.
As we begin this process of planning our new media activities, we will be asking the community and ourselves the following questions:
- What is our audiences’ use of and comfort level with various communication tools?
- How do we recruit new members through new media?
- How can the use of new media help NBGMAC reach its goals and core objectives?
- How can new media tools be utilized to meet the goals of the National AIDS Strategy and other policy priorities?
- What are the “game changers” in new media that enhance our ability to reach Black Gay Men?
- Who can we partner with to promote and expand our new media efforts?
NBGMAC believes that local organizations and coalitions need to ask these questions in order to more effectively reach their target population. New media is an essential tool for increasing awareness and engagement of Black gay men in HIV prevention efforts, policy and legislative initiatives that directly impact their lives. NBGMAC will launch its new website (www.NBGMAC.org)* with exciting social networking features later this month.
*The NBGMAC site is still under construction. Stay tuned for the website launch, and a future post on lessons learned from Venton as we follow up with him in the next few months.